In "Clues," the Enterprise apparently goes through a wormhole, which knocks out the entire ship, with the exception of Commander Data. In actuality, though, the wormhole is a ruse, a trick designed by the xenomorphic Paxans in order to keep their identity concealed from outsiders. Though the Enterprise crew is out for 24 hours, Data lies, insisting that the incapacitation only lasted for 30 seconds. Why does he lie? If he told the truth, then Dr. Crusher wouldn't have gone to Picard with her plants, she wouldn't have run a test on the last person to use the transporter, and Data wouldn't have had to use a weak excuse to try and defend his assertion that the crew was only out for 30 seconds. If he had told the bridge staff that the ship was out for 24 hours, and every piece of evidence showed this to be the case, Captain Picard might have believed the story Data told about the wormhole and continued forward, not bothering to go back and investigate. (And yes, I realize that without Data's lying, there likely wouldn't have been an episode, but I'm looking for in-universe reasons.)

Also, when the crew started getting suspicious and thinking that Data was up to something, why did Data not take Picard to the side and swear him to secrecy concerning the Paxans? Captain Picard is an honorable person, and I'm sure Data could have trusted him to keep his word. And yes, I know that Data promised to Picard never to reveal the Paxans' identity to anyone, but under the circumstances, and the likely destruction of the Enterprise, I think that Picard would have approved. Unless, somehow, the Paxans were able to monitor everything that Data said, but I don't think the episode shows this to be the case.

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    "And yes, I know that Data promised to Picard never to reveal the Paxans' identity to anyone, but under the circumstances, and the likely destruction of the Enterprise, I think that Picard would have approved." Data was very literal-minded though, and not very skilled at predicting human reactions, so even though a human in this situation would probably follow this logic, it's not clear that Data would (if he was even capable of going back on a promise to his Captain)
    – Hypnosifl
    Jul 27, 2014 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


Data was acting on the direct orders of Captain Picard. The idea was to make the "wormhole" seem as unattractive as possible to deflect any desire for the Enterprise and future expeditions from returning. Telling even a single human was out of the question and contrary to the order he'd received.

  • He creates a fake sensor record. The planet chosen was not M-class. Tethys 3 is described as "neptune-like"
  • The wormhole is made to look unstable and supposedly causes humans to lose consciousness.
  • Data explicitly states that exploration of the region is unsafe.

These factors make further investigation a deeply unreasonable risk compared to the small reward. Picard rightly posts a warning beacon.

PICARD : Good. Because our survival depends upon it. I am ordering you never to reveal what has happened here today. Not to Starfleet, not even to myself. You will conceal your memory of the Paxans for as long as you live. Is that understood?

DATA : Completely, Captain.


PICARD : Dammit, Data! It's the only explanation that makes sense! This ship is not going anywhere until I get an answer. Now who gave you such an order?

Troi ENTERS the Bridge. Data and her immediately make eye-contact. There is a look between them. He turns back to Picard.

DATA : You did, Sir.

  • It makes sense to me now why 30 seconds would be the agreed-upon time, and not 24 hours. A 24-hour period of incapacitation would certainly interest some of the ship's compliment to return to the Ngame Nebula to check out the powerful "wormhole," or try to, at least. Though you'd think an android, along with the other competent members of the crew, would have been able to prepare better (taking care of Crusher's plants, for example).
    – user30592
    Jul 27, 2014 at 22:47
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    Also, though Data's integrity is very high, and he generally keeps the orders that are commanded him, this has not always been the case. In "Quality of Life," Data refuses to unlock the transporters, though Riker commands him to. In "Interface," Data helps Geordi to defy orders, essentially breaking Picard's order himself. In "Redemption, part 2," Data disobeys Captain Picard's fleet command in order to reveal the hidden Romulan vessels.
    – user30592
    Jul 27, 2014 at 22:51

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